One of my favorite years was 1974. I was 18 and a senior in high school then a college freshman. I was well liked at my school, by students as well as the Faculty and Administration. I had been so involved in extra-curricular activities over the past four years that everyone knew me. I had worked in the school office for three years. I was pretty much on top of the world.
I hadn’t done too much about college until it was almost too late and that had been only because one of the administrators had called me in to his office to speak to a recruiter from Stanford and promised to get me out of P.E. for a week (he knew I hated P.E.). The application deadline was less than a week away but the recruiter called the Admissions Office and got an extension for me and a waiver of the application fee. I didn’t think I would get in and I knew that if I did, there was no way my parents could afford it. My dad, a cannery worker all his life, had been disabled in a work accident in five years before and my mom had never worked outside the home. We were living off of food stamps.
That was the only school I applied to. I didn’t even apply to San Jose State (now Cal State San Jose) which was where everyone from my school went. I had just figured that I would get a job and work. I didn’t think I would be going to college. Not only was there no money but my parents needed whatever money I would earn at a job.
One day in very early April, I got home from school and my mom said there were a couple of letters for me. They were both from Stanford. The first one I opened was the thick one, full of all sorts of forms. I had been accepted. I couldn’t believe it. I was happy to be accepted, but I knew I wouldn’t be going. Then my mom waved the other one in front of me and said it was from the Financial Aid office. Maybe, she said, there was a way to go. If they gave me scholarship money and loans, maybe I could go. Neither one of us knew how much tuition was, we just knew it was a lot! I opened the second envelope and had to read it several times. I wasn’t sure I was reading it right. My mom took it and read it. She wasn’t sure either. I got on the phone and called my counselor at home and read him the letter and asked if he thought it meant what I thought it might mean. Yup! I had read it right. They were giving me a full scholarship. No loans. I would have to get a work-study job as part of my financial aid package but my expected contribution was very small and very doable.
The next day, at school, it was announced over the P.A. system during our morning announcements and when I got to first period, my teacher gave me a big hug and called me “Money Bags” then sent me away. He said he knew by the ear to ear smile on my face that I was not going to be able to concentrate so he said I should go visit all my teachers and let them congratulate. I don’t even remember what I did or who I saw that day. I was just floating along about ten inched off the ground!
This was what I came up with for this prompt: “Pull out a coin at random and write a story about something that happened in the year the coin was minted.” My coin was a 1974 penny. I’ve used this prompt before. It’s a good one when you have no idea what to write and the year will be different almost every time!